Review Summary: Avenged Sevenfold at their most debatable time. Sellouts? Musicians? Terrible musicians? We'll see on their self titled album. A great one in my opinion, but it is not without it's flaws. Here is why.
Avenged Sevenfold were debatably full of talent. The Rev, a beast on drums and a great musician in other areas of music. Synyster Gates (Brian Haner Jr) had won "Guitarist Of The Year" with good reason. M. Shadows a brilliant vocalist screaming and non screaming whatever anyone says. Zacky, ok not the best technical guitarist but his playing complemented Syn's and then Johnny who regretfully can hardly ever be heard but actually is a very good bassist. They started out as a metalcore group with M.Shadows doing screaming vocals. Their first album was mostly metalcore with one song being a ballad, then their second album lost some of the screaming as Shadows started to mature (as did the rest of the band) then they released City Of Evil which gained them mainstream access and critical acclaim. But the album didn't have any screaming and there were some acoustic songs which caused some fans to accuse them of being sellouts. Now I've introduced the band and whats happened recently, lets get into the album.
(while I have been told to avoid the track by track review I can't see how I can avoid it here).
The Rev plays simple but atmospheric chords on a dramatic sounding organ, then Synyster and Zacky come in doing their usual epic harmonizing. Then all of a sudden we hear Shadows screaming with a crazy guitar squeal. Next it goes into a very riffy verse with M. Shadows on top form with the vocals which we'll get to in a second. One of the best things in this song is The Rev singing in the chorus, his vocals are perfect for the job and the fact that he can hammer on his drums and sing like he does is amazing. The solos from Synyster are a bit out of place and oddly timed but are skilled and are a good first solo for the album. The song is a different approach to America's government and it's people, instead of going straight for the overdone thing by bands and writing a song criticising the government it criticises the people who criticise their country but don't do anything to help it and spend their days pointing fingers. A brilliant opener. 4.5/5
One of the singles from the album, this song is heavy and is a showcase of what the band can do, the bass is audible, the drums storm through the song, the vocals are typical Shadows and the guitar is relentless. The song has no pretty intro and goes straight into a hammering riff and short solo, The Rev is superb in places in this song and like always is far from the backseat. The chorus is very catchy and at live sets everyone will sing their hearts out with the chorus ( I've seen it). The solo by Syn near the end is superb and the "I'm not insane I'm not insane" Breakdown after the solo is one of the best moments on the album. The lyrics are very dark and have a tormenting almost suicidal ring to them. An amazing second track 5/5
The track begins with a girl screaming and a sinister guitar riff. The bass is again actually audible and well used, M. shadows sings the sinister lyrics very well, the chorus again is very catchy with a very headbangable guitar riff and great drums to back it. The lyrics are the song are based on a vampire figure and lust, it sounds cliche but as always M. Shadow's approach to lyrics are far from cliche. About three minutes Synyster comes in with the probably most difficult solo on the album, for people who play guitar he is sweeping triplets at an incredible speed the solo then goes into a great harmonized solo which continues with Shadow's vocals it then goes into a heavier version of the chorus and ends with Shadow's vocals echoing. It is a good song but it seems a bit too much of a let down from Almost Easy.
One of the pure gems on this album. The song starts with a brilliant orchestral intro which builds up to the best guitar harmony in Avenged Sevenfolds arsenal, with The Rev hammering away at the drums and machine gunning the double bass pedals. It then goes into the excellent harmonized riff and the last of the audible bass. Shadow's singing here is some of the best of the album with the lyrics written by The Rev about a man who has died too early and wants to escape from the Afterlife. Mid way through the song the orchestra returns and goes into a brilliant breakdown with Shadows and The Rev both singing brilliantly and then suddenly the best solo of the album and maybe all of Avenged Sevenfold with the guitar shredding, sweeping harmonizing doing everything in Syn's abiltiy with The Rev still brilliantly refusing to get out of the front seat, the brilliant song then ends with the chorus. 5/5
The first of two acoustic ballads, this song is a power ballad and the heavier of the two. The song starts with a simple chord sequence and singing by Shadows. The lyrics are based on soldiers who have loved ones at home which seems to be an ongoing theme with some Sevenfold songs. After the acoustic intro the song goes into a heavier version. This song is one of the lower points of the album, while it starts off powerful it starts to lose it towards the end with the only thing to raise the excitement is an mediocre melodic solo from Synyster. The song feels out of place next to such a good song like Afterlife.
Unbound (The Wild Ride)
The album then starts to pick up a bit from here, this song wastes no time and goes straight into a fun riff and fast playing from drums. The riffs and drums are also accompanied by a very fast piano and good singing from Shadows. The chorus has lots of guitar theatrics from Synyster and Zacky and powerful singing from Shadows, but the song does wear a little thin and outstays it's welcome by the time the short solo and female vocals come in to end the song. But a good addition to pick up the album again from Gunslinger.
An eerie intro starts the song which picks up the album again for me and goes straight into a great riff then dramatically quiets down for Shadows to sing and build it back up again for the chorus. The chorus is the highlight of this song and one of my favourite moments from the album with great lyrics to sing along to and powerful but not overpowering guitar and drums. A fitting solo and another great chorus end the song.
With the successful effort to pick the album up again this song sadly brings it down a bit. With a good harmonized intro and great build up with the drums, it then changes into a riff with Shadows in the fray, the first verse is good but then for once Shadows ruins with it with a bad autotuned voice and autotuned backup vocals. This causes the song to literally go from good bit to bad bit to good bit. Even the solo from the great Synyster makes the song worse, apart from the ending solo.
A Little Piece Of Heaven
The album is brought up to it's best here. Possibly the best song on the album This song showcases The Rev's songwriting. With an eerie, funny, intriguing and almost disturbing story found in the lyrics and great instrumentation and a great song length this is Sevenfold at their best. The song starts with an orchestra intro that would fit right in with a Tim Burton tale. The drums and guitars then come galloping in and Shadows sings theatrically with greatly arranged instruments. The story of the song is shown in the cleverly animated music video but for those who don't want to watch a nine minute animation. The main character proposes to his love nervously, her reaction: to laugh at him and say no. This causes him to kill her and preserve her for his "uses" But of course he gets his comeuppance when she rises from the dead and kills him, he then realises what he has done and swears to redeem himself and returns with her to the world of the living and they live eternally. Shadows and The Rev's crazy vocals on this song are fantastic and the orchestra is great. The album should have ended with this brilliant song. 5/5
While Avenged Sevenfold can write good acoustic songs, this is not a good example. After the brilliant previous track which could have ended the album on a high this an annoyingly mediocre step down. With lyrics many people could easily write if they were in Shadow's lonely touring mood that he illustrates in this song. The guitar is entertaining for the first minute and the chorus doesen't really build up to anything which at least Gunslinger could pull of slightly. By the time it gets a little bit more exciting I have usually gone back to A Little Piece Of Heaven or Afterlife. A let down. 2.5/5
While this album has a great start (the first four tracks) and is probably the best part of the album the great songs on this album are seperated by mediocre fillers such as Gunslinger and Lost which really bring the album down when compared to it's better tracks. But if you're willing to wait for Brompton Cocktail and A Little Piece Of Heaven at the end of the album then you'll be rewarded. Overall a good effort from Sevenfold but not without it's flaws.